The Origins of 80’s Goth Fashion and Music

by | Aug 9, 2019 | Costumes and Cloaks | 2 comments

Goth Fashion is known for raven black mourning clothes, dark eyeliner and the occasional goth velvet cloak. Its also a powerful musical sub-culture.

I came of age in the 80’s, so as far as I remember there have been goth people. To my surprise, the origin of goth fashion and music dates back to the late 70’s.

Sources agree that Goth Fashion was inspired by the 80’s English punk band, Siouxsie and the Banchees. Hundreds of young English women started imitating Siouxsie’s dark look after they saw her at a gig in Leeds in 1980. Siouxsie’s gothic look included spiky dyed-black hair, black clothes, cat-eye makeup, and bold deep red lipstick.

It should be noted that Siouxsie was also hugely influential in inspiring punk fashion! She was well known in the London Club scene for combining glam, fetish and bondage into her own style! 

goth velvet cloak

Siouxsie and the Banchees created the goth look that inspired the 80’s goth sub-culture.

Goth Fashion

Goth Fashion of the 80’s, 90’s, 2000’s and 2010’s focuses on black clothing and include the following kinds of details:
heavy black eyeliner for men and women
pale, powdered skin like a pale corpse
crimped or spiky hair
Victorian and Gothic inspired-items like beaded chokers and cocktail rings
fishnet stockings and corsets
lacy gloves
Stiletto heels or pointed boots or thigh high boots
Silver jewelry like crosses and other religious or occult themes
black leather coats
touches of scarlet or purple
goth velvet cloak, vest or jacket.

Goth Style Icons

Theda Bara, a 1910’s femme fatal known for her death-defying dark eyeshadow.
Robert Smith
Bela Lugosi
Bettie Page
Morticia Addams
Rozz Williams
David Bowie
Lux Interior
Dave Vanian

goth fashion icons

Large left hand photo: Rozz Williams, photo by Edward Colver; David Bowie (top), Morticia Addams(middle), Nico (bottom).

Gothic Rock and Bands

Rock & Punk & Glam Precursors:
Jim Morrison & The Doors
Leonard Cohen
Marc Bolan
The Velvet Underground
David Bowie
Iggy Pop
Sex Pistols
Alice Cooper

Out of the embers of punk emerged a dark and romantic sound.
Siouxie and The Banchees, of course
Joy Division
The Cure

Music historians say that goth music is a reaction or counter point to the 60’s flower children, and failure of the peace movement to achieve lasting change. It is the case that the cultural and political backdrop of late 70’s goth music in the US was the Vietnam war. The Doors and The Velvet Underground brought us gloomy, dark, and mourning music. In Britain, punk was a more violent, harsh counterpoint to the 60’s peace and love music and movement.

From the post-hippy, post-punk music emerged goth music. 


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  1. Lavina Morticia Kymille was a gothic girl who was married to Sebastian Bach of Skid Row.Hardly anything is on web of her however she was incredibly beautiful and totally sinister.


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